I recently—a belated fashion revelation—discovered the hip mommy shoes of the new millennium: TOMS. Invented by a guy to provide cheap but quality footwear to people in developing countries, TOMS are now sold for $50 in upscale U.S. retail stores like Urban Outfitters in a variety of colors and textures. They go with skirts and pants of any length or style. There are summer TOMS and winter TOMS with cozy fuzz on the inside. They are now part of the new hipster mommy uniform. They may have lost some of the social justice that they once had; you look at them and you think “cool shoes—where can I buy a pair (or two)?”
TOMS are nice for short distances. Not so much for traipsing about town on long errands, however, because the foot bed provides minimal support. I wonder how people in the third-world will walk the 3 miles to their elementary school or 5 miles to the nearest water source without their tootsies crying out in pain? Then again, kids’ feet are tough, and I’m old. My feet have never been in stellar shape, and now they seem to only tolerate expensive supportive shoes offered by high-end boutiques.
In my 20s I underwent surgery to remove my bunions, which, in accordance with the general line of this conversation, are bony outgrowths on the feet that protrude right below the big toe. They become painful when they push against the other bones in the foot. Bunion is a terrible sounding word; it sounds like onion and funyon. Funyons are delicious when you’re drunk but sound gross, and though onions are a beautiful base in culinary endeavors, they also suffer from this etymological curse.
Maybe moms with superior feet do better in TOMS. I, on the other hand, have lousy feet. But don’t judge a mother until you’ve walked a mile in her TOMS. She’ll thank you for it, silently. I thought that wearing TOMS would make me a better mom. Of course, they haven’t. What’s helped me improve my mad mom skillz? Trying to be more patient when my kids drag their feet in the morning rush to get to school on time. I feed them the way they have shown they will eat, in incremental snacks starting from the time they get home to the time they have to get ready for bed. I try to enjoy the moment with them rather than worrying about what I have to get done next. It’s working, but it’s hard work. A lot harder than I thought it would be. It’s not so much other moms judging me, but me judging myself, scrutinizing every move I make and do not make. It was much easier when they were babies. My son often asks me, usually in the middle of a tense moment when we are rushing to be on time, “Mommy, are you happy?” I invariably reply “yes,” and when I turn to look at him he has a big smile on his face. I can’t help but smile back.
The truth is, TOMS have afforded me a sense of false confidence. The truth is, they make me feel capable and comfortable when I am anything but. Although I am exercising more, I’m also chewing Nicorette gum. I’m smoking again after ten years of tobacco-free living. I can be impatient. My diet is leaning towards the vegan, but my chia seed-enhanced smoothies taste best to me when accompanied by a cigarette. I can fool myself temporarily with the reassurance that three cigarettes and four pieces of gum do not a “real” smoker make, but I know in my heart this is just semantics. My stress simply seems to overwhelm me. Will another pair of TOMS, complete with a fuzzy soft lining to keep my feet warmed through the colder months, help me move away from my own self-destructive tendencies? Maybe. Or maybe I'll just have warm feet.